Posts Tagged ‘Mad Hatters Writers’


What is ANNOYING me this week?

Traffic lights – everyone of them seems to hold me up.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Elford Ale and Folk Festival.


Mirage – Camel


My post this week has been prepared on Sunday; this is due to a very busy week ahead.

Starting on Tuesday – when I will be M.C. at THE FIZZ at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey when I will be introducing the wonderful Leicester Poet Matt Merritt reading from his latest collection Hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica published by Nine Arches Press. Matt is a wild life journalist and this is a major inspiration in his poetry.

Matt has been a great promoter of Polesworth as a fan of Michael Drayton, Matt’s blog is at http://polyolbion.blogspot.com, taking its name from Drayton’s great work of the same name.

Please do try and come along.

Wednesday sees the Mad Hatters Writers in Atherstone and Thursday sees me attending The Runaway writers in Burton.

Friday is Spoken Worlds in Burton – it was not last Friday as I had first thought – good job I found out before turning up. So I will be at the Old Cottage Tavern in Burton, where they serve some fine real ales and once a month Gary Carr delivers Spoken Worlds, a mix of Poetry, Theatre in an event with its now famous “three halves” – I will probably give my Nuneaton Poems as second airing.

SATURDAY is the GREAT WEST MIDLANDS POETRY RELAY, which will see ten poets of which I am honoured to be one of them, travelling around the Midlands writing poetry in a relay race with one poet passing the baton to the next poet who will add the next part of the poem.

The relay starts in Stoke on Trent and then on to Burton On Trent, The next stop is Polesworth where I will take the baton before I pass it on at Hatton Country world, following with Worcester/Droitwich, Malvern Hills, Bromyard, Highley, Telford and finishing in Stafford. The Poets will travel on a minibus being collected as they take the baton, The poem will be read at each of the locations as it grows on it journey around the Midlands.

The ten parts of the poem will be attached to ten pigeons from the Birmingham Pigeon Project and released in Stafford, back to the loft in Birmingham, the final order of the poem being decided by the order in which the pigeons arrive back at the loft.

The event is part of a series of events organised in the run up to the 2012 London Olympics as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

I am really excited about taking part in this journey, meeting and working with the other poets, which at the time of writing I do not know who they are, which makes in even more intriguing and of course the final order that the pigeons bring in the poem.

I will write more on the blog next week about the experience.

For more information of times and destinations then check out the following website and if you can be in any other locations to hear the poem being read then please do turn up to be part of the audience at these unique poetry readings in these unusual poetic places.


My lost poet this week is a Bush Poet from Australia.

Most people’s experience of Bush Poetry is the song Waltzing Matilda, with its tale of the bushman brewing his tea, when a sheep appears, which he takes to eat only to be caught by the owners and three policeman and it ends with the bushman committing suicide and forever haunting the place, it was written as a poem by Banjo Paterson in the 1890’s and later put to music to become an unofficial anthem of Australia and all things Australian.

It seems strange that such a sad tale should come to be a representative identity of a nation; it’s maybe the way that singers seem to perform it in such a jaunty almost comic way.

It does however have a myriad of words that are quintessentially Australian, Swagman, Billabong, Billy, Coolibah Tree, Jumbuck and Tucker and even the title Waltzing Matilda, which is slang for walking on foot (Waltzing) with a bag on your back (A matilda), or dancing across the country with your bag as your partner.

Which makes sense of some of my parents sayings (although they were English), instead of asking where I was going, I was more likely to be asked where I was waltzing off too.

Bush poetry is full of these types of rhythmic poetic words, that are poetry in there own right without any need to put metaphor, simile, alliteration or any of the other poetic devices around them.

The origins of Bush Poetry is as an expression of everything Australian – the landscape, the language, the cultural identity coming from poets who lived in a nation defining its identity.

It is a very definitive poetry of a specific place, the spirit of which is encapsulated in the words and slang, which reveal the cultural motivations of the people. If I were to use these words to describe Warwickshire, they would just not work.

Banjo Paterson was born Andrew Barton Paterson in 1864 in New South Wales, growing up on remote farmsteads in the outback, surrounded by wide open spaces where horses were the main form of transport, this was to become much of the themes of his poetry which he wrote from the city, where he was a lawyer.

He was educated firstly by a governess and then when he had learnt to ride a horse at a bush school. Later he attended the Sydney Grammar School where he excelled in his studies and as a sportsman. From here he became and articled clerk as firm of solicitors and by 1886 was admitted as a qualified solicitor.

In 1885, he started submitting poetry to the Sydney edition of the Bulletin under the pseudonym of The Banjo after one of his favourite horses. In 1890 he wrote one of his best known works The Man from the Snowy River, which was taken to heart by the nation, this was followed by a collection under the same name.

He became a war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age during the first Boar war which saw him sail for South Africa; on his return in 1903 he married Alice Walker, with whom he had two children. It was in this period that he published a collection of Old Bush Songs in 1905.

During the 1st World War he failed to obtain the position of a war correspondent and instead volunteered as an Ambulance driver, serving in France where he was injured and for a time reported missing. Later in the war he was stationed in Cairo, Egypt. When he was discharged from the Army in 1919 he had attained the rank of Major.

On his return to Australia his third collection, Saltbush Bill JP was published and he continued to write articles for the Truth and the Sydney Sportsman into the 1920’s

He died of a heart attack in 1941 and it has been said that in his lifetime he was second only to Kipling as the most popular poet writing in English.

A part from Waltzing Matilda and The Man from the Snowy River, his other notable poem is Clancy of the Overflow.

I am discussing the work of Banjo Paterson as a way of introducing Bush Poetry, as he wrote a piece that has a more global recognition. Other worthy poets who are from the Bush Poetry school are; Dorothea Mackellar (1885-1968) key works – My Country; and Henry Lawson (1867-1922) Key works – Freedom on a Wallaby, The City Bushman and Up the Country.

I chose Bush Poetry for a couple of reasons, the first being that it is poetry of place, full of the spirit of the place, which is of particular interest to me for the themes for my own poems. I also chose them because the Australian Bush Poets Association (ABPA) is based in Tamworth, New South Wales, which is also close to my heart as I live in Tamworth Staffordshire.

ABPA continue the traditions of Bush Poetry, through promoting poets such as Banjo Paterson, but also in developing new voices of the modernist Bush Poets.

Here are some links for the Bush Poets.

The Australian Bush Poets Association

The Man from the Snowy River – By Banjo Paterson.

Banjo Paterson’s biography at all down under.

Website for Dorethea Mackellar

Biography for Henry Lawson


Readings in July.
19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.
22nd July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

In August.
2nd August – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s – Coventry.
8th August – O’Bheal – Cork – Ireland.
10th August – The Whitehouse – Limerick – Ireland.
19th August – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.


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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Lack of Time

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Warwickshire Life printing the poem The River Anker by Emma Putland


And The Glass Handed Kites – MEW


Last week, my writing week started on Tuesday evening with a trip to Coventry, I went of my own volition, I wasn’t sent, before you ask. Night Blue Fruit at the Tin Angel is Heaventree Press’ monthly poetry night, its name taken from Joyce’s Ulysses, which itself finds its roots with Homer, and so the poetic air of the event hangs around the doorway of the Tin Angel. This café come bar is made for reading poetry, it is not an “in your face” place, its low lights and small bar, its hum of Jazz. If Hopper had come to Coventry he would have painted it, with its slight shabbiness, its mix of furniture, the CD bar and posters that show real music is a live and being performed on small stages in Coventry. And so to our temporary stage with its open mic. The seating and surroundings don’t matter, the Jazz is tuned out, it is the poetry that people want to hear.

The night was compered by Barry Patterson who gave us poetry and song from the heart of the woods, his drum beating out the tribal dance of the ancient knowers. He introduced a wonderful mix of poets of all ages. The young Josie Allen whose poetry from the art gallery buzzed with sexual tension, and the not so young Colin Dick whose poetry always entices you into the world of someone with a wise artists eye, his colour filled words trip from his brush tongue, to nostalgic times that could have happened yesterday. Diane, whose monthly poems of her mysterious muse, who wants her, but then never arrives.

There were new faces, all young: Charlene, Anna and Si, all expressing the nervous mellow voices of poets climbing aboard the poetry clipper for the first time.

Then there was me, not one of the young, closer to the old. Taking my time, I got into a place where my lyrics floated from my tongue, my carefully crafted words sent in peace to drift among the ears and into the thoughts of my fellow poets, as they sat on the oddments of chairs, in this unique space.

This is the first time I felt really good about my reading, I didn’t have to act like a stand up comedian, didn’t have to make them laugh, I could hold them with my threads.

Night Blue Fruit is held at the Tin Angel in Old Spon St, Coventry on the First Tuesday of the Month.

Workshop Poster

Wednesday afternoon brought a meeting on the Poets Trail and saw me more business like. I presented the plans for the next phase of the trail, which were well received and I was able to confirm the dates for my workshops. Thursday saw a frenzy emailing and promoting to encourage poets to sign up for the twenty places to explore the ten new themes from which the new poems will be selected.

Within the first hour a quarter of the places were taken and as of now three quarters of the places are allotted.

 If you missed the details on my last blog then here are they are repeated below:

Polesworth Poets Trail is moving forward to complete the trail with the creation of a further TEN POEMS to be displayed along the canal and up into Pooley Country Park.

The POEMS will be selected from the works created as part of these workshops, which will explore themes around Coal, Nature, Navigation, Motorways and Heritage.

There will be four workshops are planned the following dates from 11am – 4pm

Sat 26th Feb – Sat 12th March – Sat 19th March – Sat 26th March in Polesworth and Pooley.

The workshops are FREE and open to everyone over the age of 16, who wish to develop their poetic style and be considered for inclusion on this award winning poetry trail.

Attending these workshops will be the ONLY WAY to be considered for inclusion on this phase of the trail. So don’t miss your opportunity to be included on this internationally recognised poetry trail.

Email me if you are interested in attending malcolmdewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday evening saw the Mad Hatters Writers and Thursday evening, the Runaway Writers, both groups were depleted due to bugs and viruses, never the less both evenings created some interesting debate and careful and due consideration for the pieces offered.

These included an exert from Alex Simpson’s excellent Boy at War autobiography, with a chapter on the feelings and adventures of a seven year old boy evacuated from Glasgow. Gina Coates wonderful short story from the perspective of a retired nervous greyhound, there is some real mileage in these stories and I look forward to more.  Leanne Beardmore read the start of a re-found piece on the interactions of teenagers, which invoked discussion on dynamic teenagers who do real things. The piece has some great hooks and left us with a real desire to know what happens next, I hope she develops this further. We missed the Secret Writer, as she was fighting off a bug.

On Thursday we had some really thought provoking poetry from Dea Costelloe on the unacknowledged victims of war, A wonderful poignant poem from Margaret Torr inspired by the Yorkshire poet Ann Moss on the theft of hearing and dealing with deafness and following the fire alarm, which saw us rush out on to the car park, only to find it was a false alarm, we ended the evening with Terri Jolland’s humorous poem on being a loose knitter, which lightened the evening. We missed several members with bugs and viruses and I only hope this winter goes quickly and we can get back into our stride.

This week sees me organising a party and putting the final preparations to workshop material.


The Poets Trail Workshops

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

The promotion of trivia.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The buzz and the anticipation.


Learn to sing like a star – Kristin Hersch.


Last week turned out to be busier than expected as several projects were given the green light and so the serious planning got underway.

The second phase of the Polesworth Poets trail was approved and will see the trail extend from where the first phase finished on the canal up into Pooley country park.

The first phase saw ten new contemporary poems displayed on sculptures throughout the town and was completed at the end of 2009. The poems eight of which were the result of a national competition and two which were special commissions have already attracted new visitors to Polesworth. The original plan was always to take the trail up into Pooley country park, thus linking Polesworth Abbey to the Mining Heritage at Pooley.

Phase two will establish ten further poems which will be selected from poems created as part of four workshops I am running in February and March. These workshops will explore ten themes, including Coal, Nature, Navigation, Motorways and Heritage. Poets attending these workshops will be able to able to experience the environment and talk to local experts on the themes, from which they will be encouraged to develop new contemporary poetry.

The workshop are all planned in terms of content and have been since before last Christmas, so the activities are around arranging dates, locations and the local experts. See Coming Soon Doings for more information.

Workshop Poster 

The second project that got the green light was the First Polesworth International Poetry Film Festival, as I was able to confirm the facilities and some dates, I am planning this for the Fizz in November.

The other aspect of this, to truly call it an international film festival, was the permission to show films from abroad. I received news this week from a Los Angeles based film director who gave his permission to show his poetry film, which was originally shown at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008. I will give you more details nearer the time.

I already have permission to use films from John Siddique, Sarah James and hopefully some others that are currently in discussion. Not to forget of course my own films of which Yell! will be included and hopefully some other films that I am planning to work on during the summer with poets who have approached me with film ideas.

I am never the less, CALLING for FLIMS – They should be no longer than 10 minutes and relate to the theme of a poem. Please email me if you think you have a film we can include in this showcase of the best contemporary poetry films and we can discuss it. Email malcolmdewhirst@yahoo.co.uk

 Call For Films

This week sees the monthly Night Blue Fruit Poetry evening at the Tin Angel in Coventry on Tuesday and The Mad Hatters Writers in Atherstone on Wednesday followed by the Runway writers in Burton on Thursday.


Polesworth Poets Trail Workshops.

Another chance for Poets to get their poems on the Poets Trail.

Polesworth Poets Trail is moving forward to complete the trail with the creation of a further TEN POEMS to be displayed along the canal and up into Pooley Country Park.

The POEMS will be selected from the works created as part of these workshops, which will explore themes around Coal, Nature, Navigation, Motorways and Heritage.

 There will be four workshops are planned the following dates from 11am – 4pm

 Sat 26th Feb – Sat 12th March – Sat 19th March – Sat 26th March in Polesworth and Pooley. These are subject to final confirmation.

The workshops are FREE and open to everyone over the age of 16, who wish to develop their poetic style and be considered for inclusion on this award winning poetry trail.

Attending these workshops will be the ONLY WAY to be considered for inclusion on this phase of the trail. So don’t miss your opportunity to be included on this internationally recognised poetry trail.

Email me if you are interested in attending malcolmdewhirst@yahoo.co.uk


Fizz 6 

The next FIZZ is number 6 when we will have the Lichfield Poets reading from their latest anthology Battle Lines – on Tuesday 22nd March at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

Websites that do not show the full range of products that you can buy from their real shops.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The idea of running an International Poetry Film Festival in Polesworth.


The Best of Radiohead.


As I said in my last blog, last week was a busy week. It started on Tuesday with THE FIZZ my bi-monthly poetry and spoken word event at Polesworth. The guest poet was the excellent Sarah James who read from her collection “Into the Yell” followed by an open mic, where a wide range of poets read a diverse collection of poems, diverse in subject matter and style. The Secret Writer has written a review on her blog of the event. The next Fizz is on 22nd March when the guests will be The Lichfield Poets – one for the diary.

The writers groups on Wednesday and Thursday offered their usual open constructive critiques which have become a necessity in the development of our writing craft. Both the Mad Hatters Writers and the Runaway Writers are well established groups with members who offer their thoughts and opinions with a trust and understanding that often sees great debates on the nuance of poem or the outcome of a short story. These are delivered with benefiting the writer and the writer’s potential success in mind. We all do it for the benefit of each other.

The Mad Hatter Writers meet every other Wednesday at the Red Lion in Atherstone at 8:00pm the next meeting is on the 2nd Feb and the Runaway Writers meet every other Thursday at the Brewhouse in Burton-on-Trent at 7:00pm the next meeting is on the 3rd Feb. All writers over 16 are welcome to both.

Gary Carr’s excellent monthly Spoken Worlds took place at Rangemore House, Burton on Friday 21st January. There were no guest poets this month, although previous months have seen Sarah James and Rachel Pantechnicon both of whom were excellent. The evening gave me a chance to wear my new “Sgt Pepper” jacket resulting in no end of comment, which were added too when I performed my silent piece “20 Seconds”, a tribute to John Cage, there we murmurs that it was the best poem that I had ever written.

Take that you Napolionic fiend.

Poet in a Sharp jacket - Take that you Napolionic fiend.

The evening saw an eclectic mix of pathos and humour. With subjects ranging from The loss of a fire-fighter, the loneliness of an unloved child who never-the-less still loved the world, to sea gulls who seem to have lost their way now live in Burton, to a game of Bridge and the tale of a goat who ate a ladies underwear, all life was there in the words of the poets who read and performed.

The event, which takes place in “three halves” saw local poets and writers such as the marvellous Margaret Torr, whose story of the goat and the knickers is not only funny but well written as a series of letters between the various parties who become entangled in this love story, Margaret’s poem about the irritations of people who do not get on, delivered through the auspices of making tea was also a triumph.

The delightful Dea Costelloe wondered about seagulls that were so far from the sea and read her recently published article about learning shorthand and typing as a sixteen year old in Essex. Dea is not only able to craft together these studies of life and the world through her unique observation, she delivers them with a calming charm that has a hint of the mischievous.

Further performances came from the remarkable Rob Stevens (who runs the Word Wizard’s Poetry Slam in Buxton) who entertained us with his poems and a song. Rob is regular performer as the Spoken Worlds and in the past has given us a wonderful poem on learning about contraception with a parsnip and a song about cyclists blocking the Peak District roads on Sunday afternoons. 

The authentic Andy Biddulph who has a compelling ability to hold an audience with his poetic tales of a lonely childhood to being a cured diabetic, which were delivered with the gusto that has become Andy’s trademark style of delivery of these well crafted verses.

The terrific Terri and Ray Jolland delivered some wonderful pieces about characters such as Tugg and his pal, Terri and Ray have become a wonderful double act as well as producing individual well written pieces, Ray delivered a humorous piece on playing Bridge. At a previous Spoken Worlds, Terri and Ray delivered a sketch about a couple of ner-do-wells who want to steal a park bench and end up in the middle of drugs bust, which was a brilliant piece of writing, made even funnier by their comic timing. 

Topped off with pieces from our compere and organiser Gary Carr whose words always delight, intrigue and trip of his tongue with all the cleverness that one expects from such a great poet.  

Spoken Worlds is a great evening as you never know what to expect, with the mix of poetry, stories, songs and sketches, where normally quiet unassuming writers step into their performance roles, that creates a range of emotional waves that leave you thinking, laughing and longing for more.

The Spoken Worlds is a monthly event held on the Third Friday at 7:30pm at Rangemore House, Rangemore Street, Burton-upon-Trent, where all are welcome. The next is on the 18th February.

Enough of the personal alliterative adjectives, I look forward to what this week holds, it will be less busy and maybe I can put sometime into developing my collection of poems, now that I have a new concept and theme on which to glue them together.

I have added another blog to my list of those to follow, that of O’Bheal in Cork, which has some great reviews of the last Cork-Coventry literature exchange which saw Paul Casey, Billy Ramsell, Joe Horgan and Sue Cosgrave read at Polesworth last November.


The FIZZ 10 – which will take place in September, will be the last numbered FIZZ and to mark this milestone I am planning to hold the first Polesworth International Poetry Film Festival. I already have five films lined up with a further two in production and I am actively seeking permission to use a film from Ireland and another from the USA. Added to two Anglo/American films that I already have permission to show this will give us the truly international feel to the event.

If there are poets out there who already have poetry films that they would like to show at this event then please contact me at malcolmdewhirst@yahoo.co.uk. Films should be no longer that five minutes and full permissions must be obtained from the poets and film makers. Email me if you think you have something suitable and we can discuss including it in the September Fizz.

The next FIZZ is number 7 when we will have the Lichfield Poets reading from their latest anthology Battle Lines – on Tuesday 22nd March at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey.

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